Karen Davis’ ’83, G’90 desire to create a welcoming environment for all has permeated every corner of the College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS). Building the college’s career services from the ground up and becoming the assistant dean of…
Get to Know New Women’s Volleyball Coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam on the ‘’Cuse Conversations’ Podcast
The Syracuse University women’s volleyball team made its 2022 debut over the weekend at the Charlotte Invitational in Charlotte, North Carolina, and for the first time in more than a decade, the Orange have a new head coach: Bakeer Ganesharatnam, the seventh women’s volleyball coach in school history.
Ganesharatnam boasts an impressive coaching resume and comes to Syracuse after leading the Temple University’s women’s volleyball program to 173 victories over the last 11 years, including four seasons with 20-plus wins. Ganesharatnam has a reputation as a strong recruiter, and as a coach who helps his student-athletes achieve success on the court and in the classroom.
Hired to take over the reins of the Orange on June 27, Ganesharatnam inherits six returning student-athletes from last year’s team that went 17-13, including All-Region outside hitter Polina Shemanova. The hard work, commitment and dedication displayed by all of his student-athletes, from his first day on the job, have left a lasting impression on Ganesharatnam.
“The first thing I noticed, and this was from the very first meeting I had with the student-athletes, the returners who were remaining on the roster, is they were completely open to this process. They were excited, and they wanted to succeed. They were welcoming to me and the approach we had, and they were completely bought in from the first moment. That has carried throughout this whole process. We have a group of players who are willing to work hard, who are willing to make sacrifices, who are 100% bought into what we want to do and who are hungry for success,” says Ganesharatnam.
With the 2022 season underway, Ganesharatnam sat down with us to discuss what made this position so appealing, why he was the right person to lead the Orange, how he’ll use analytics to help his team get better and why his team enjoys a unique home-court advantage playing home matches in the Women’s Building.
Check out episode 113 of the “’Cuse Conversations” podcast featuring Bakeer Ganesharatnam. A transcript is also available.
01You're just the seventh head coach in the history of Syracuse University women's volleyball. Why was this job appealing to you?
The University is a great academic institution, it has a beautiful campus and on top of that, everybody knows Syracuse Athletics and the proud history of the program. The ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) is one of the top-rated conferences in athletics, but especially in the sport of women’s volleyball. So you combine all that, and this job was the whole package. Being only the seventh head coach of the program, that speaks for itself. It shows you that a lot of coaches who are in charge of this program stay here and want to help build a legacy.
02How would you describe your coaching style, and what made you the right fit for our program?
It was all about potential. As a competitor, you want to compete at the highest level, and this position and this institution allow me to do that. Throughout the process, one of the things I found out fast was that everybody was hungry to take the next step, and everybody involved in the process was committed to making this program successful. I feel like I’m able to get the best results from my student-athletes. I’m more on the analytical side of coaching. I try to explain to my student-athletes why we do certain things, what the expectations are and how we can achieve those goals. I’m not somebody who is going to just force somebody to do something; I want them to do it because they bought in and they understand why we are doing it. When you do that, you tend to have better results, especially in the long term.
03How do you incorporate analytics into the volleyball program?
Volleyball is a very technical game, so whenever technical aspects are there, you have to incorporate data. You have to break it down to the bare minimum and find out what the best percentages are in certain situations, and then you have to combine that with the skillset. You have to be able to perform a certain task at a pretty high level in order to get the best outcome or the highest percentage of the outcome, so that’s what we try to do. We try to combine data and analytics with teaching a basic and solid technical skillset.
04How are members of the team responding to the lessons you're trying to teach them?
The first thing I noticed is that the returners who were remaining on the roster were completely open to this process. They were excited, and they wanted to succeed. They were welcoming to me, my approach, and were completely bought in from the first moment. That has carried throughout this whole process.
We have a group of players who are willing to work hard, make sacrifices and are 100% bought into what we want to do, and who are hungry for success. If you combine all that, it makes our job much easier and more enjoyable, so I’m very thankful for that.
05What kind of unique home-court advantage do we enjoy playing our games in the Women's Building, and why should our students, faculty and staff come out and cheer on the Orange?
I’m really about history, culture and longevity. The Women’s Building is a really cool place to play volleyball. It’s a great venue because you pack that place with 800, 900 or 1,000 people and it’s a very hard place to compete if you’re an opposing team. I competed with my former teams in the Women’s Building, so I know how hard it is to play there and I’m glad I’m on the other side.
It’s free to watch us play and we want to create a really exciting environment for our team. I urge anyone who is interested in volleyball to come check us out. Even if you have no idea about volleyball, please come watch and support us and I promise you will get hooked. It’s such an exciting sport to watch!